Thursday, April 30, 2015

Finally a clinic wrap-up

Things are moving along quite well here, I had a HUGE yard sale last weekend in which I made over $1000 from stuff that I didn't actually use anymore.  It was all things I could live without and WOW did I sell a lot.  About 90% of stuff, woohoo!  Moving is starting to become a reality.  The weekend prior we had our clinic which also went amazingly.  The problem?  I haven't had the drive to type it all out.  Blah!  I have lots of pretty pictures and could talk to you about my rides but writing it down?  Just not in the mindset still.  So here is my forcing it out :D

On the 18th we went to our clinic.  Mia had a hesitation when we went to load, she walked up to the trailer and said Nope.  Well, free will and all, she is welcome to say no.  The flip side is that there are consequences to actions so she got backed up and then smacked with a lead rope a few times and a threat to grab the dressage whip if she did that again.  We walked back up to the trailer and she leapt on but then immediately started to back out when I was about to clip her halter.  Uhhh, nope.  I pushed her out of the trailer and smacked her a few more times and tried again, she gladly hopped on and stood still while I tied her up.  She also figured out she needed to step over to the right so that the divider can be shut, she is learning because last year I was pushing her big butt over.  Yay!  TWH loads himself, he is such a good horse.  I think she will get there, maybe by the end of the year?

We made it to the grounds and Mia was behaving quite well.  TWH's dressage ride was first so I hung out at the trailer to make sure she would be okay.  Mia screamed a few times but not nearly like she did last year.  She also had no problem staying tied to the trailer, even when I was out of sight.  Progress!  I hopped on 20 minutes before our first ride and walked up to the warmup.  She walked fine but as soon as she started trotting she lit the little rockets on her hooves.  No relaxation, no listening to my seat, barely listening to my reins, going as fast as she can.  At one point we were trotting and she even bolted and I had to do an actual one rein stop to get her stopped.  Geez mare!!!!  I took the opportunity to do walk/trot quarter circles, where we walk a quarter circle, trot a quarter circle and repeat about 100 times.  After about the 15th transition she finally started listening to my seat instead of my hands and was starting to pay attention and I could do a real warmup.

We had our lesson and my instructor was M, she was very impressed with my progress over the winter.  YAY!!  She said that when she left in January, any lessons would have been trying to establish the new normal for my position and her contact, with her being gone I accomplished this myself and now we can move forward with new stuff.  Woohoo!

We let the tired mare relax as we waited the 2.5 hours for cross country and despite kicking TWH off of his hay bag (so we had to change which window each was tied at), she was content.  They went through my 6 gallons of water before cross country so we had to use the local water, if I show both horses I may have to use my bigger tank.  Good info to know.

SLOW DOWN!  Carousel horse pic!
Mia started cross country like a beast.  She had no problem doing a w/t/c with other horses and I started over the baby jumps Mia didn't care and would drag me to the jumps.  You wouldn't have thought she had a hard dressage ride with how she was behaving.  The instructor made the comment "she has a lot of jump!"  Uh, yeah you could say that!  We jumped every single Beginner Novice and Novice jump on the grounds and she was awesome.

Mare don't care about big jumps
I did, however, almost fall off.  And I mean I stayed on only due to sheer determination and pure luck.  All of the other horses were having problems with the ditch so my green horse, who had never been over anything other than a tiny baby ditch before, was a leader horse for the rest of them.  We jumped over it 3 times with zero issues.  The instructor had us string some jumps together and we were to go over a jump, over the ditch and up a small hill to another jump before continuing a gallop over to other jumps.  We went over the first jump fine, when she went over the ditch she jumped it oddly and I was a bad rider, I didn't keep my weight in my heels.  This tossed me forward with plenty of air between me and the saddle.  I was headed up and over her shoulder when I clamped down with my legs and grabbed her neck and JUST BARELY pulled myself back into the saddle.  I then had just enough time to ride 2 strides before she jumped the last jump before the gallop.  Wow I haven't come that close to falling off in a LONG time.

We finished up going through water and Mia was a total rock star.  Total.  Rock.  Star.  She was absolutely awesome and gave me 100% confidence to go Novice at our first show this Sunday.  We are taking the suggestion of the instructor, however, and am going to show Beginner Novice at horse trials this year to get her the experience she needs.  She was super sticky over stadium fences last year and we want to ensure she has nothing but positive experiences.  We know she can do height, let's get her some exposure before we start pushing her.  So that is the plan, Novice at the derbies and BN at the Horse Trials.  Hopefully I will have some pictures of this weekend and it goes super well!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Getting back to it. Again. *updated*

So I did end up going to a follow up doctors appointment since I wasn't 100% in the lung department and they said that my lungs are much better but they still rattle and are inflamed a bit.  They gave me ANOTHER prescription (the 5th one so far) to try to knock the residual inflammation and what not out of there and it seems to be doing a pretty good job.  The rattle is pretty much gone and I am only coughing a few times a day, so much progress!

I rode Mia over the weekend and man, lung issues suck.  I rode around the block on Saturday with Mia by herself for the first time since last fall.  She was kind of spooky when we started out but I kept smacking her every time she would spook and shy at things (ROCK!!  STICK!!  MAILBOX!!) and by the halfway point she had settled down and was just bebopping along.  We trotted a few times and even cantered for a short distance and I was able to do it all but only for very short periods before I would get winded and start coughing.  Saturday as good for Mia though, she was a good mare who kept her brains in her head.  Sunday we rode around the block again but this time with everyone (K on TWH, me ponying App) and Mia was very good. She didn't balk almost at all and she was very good the entire ride.  My endurance increased by about 50% at the trot so I felt much better about my chances of riding this upcoming weekend.

Monday was a dressage ride and Mia was quite forward but listened pretty well.  We were able to do some serpentines without Mia dropping her shoulder in the change of bend and she did stay stretched forward and downward most of the time.  Her canter is much improved since January and I am really excited about our lessons on Saturday, I really want to have some good, solid feedback.  Tuesday we did fitness over cross poles.  Mia ended up getting pretty fast over the cross poles and not staying a consistent speed all the way around the arena but we worked well and it helped me work on finding her distance and overall it was a good ride.  I  also laid down a barrel in the middle of the arena, no standards, no poles, just a barrel.  I turned Mia to it and expected her to try to duck out or stop, she EXPLODED towards it and flew over it.  Uhhh, horse??  She was literally dragging me to the barrel, it was too funny.  She didn't know what to think about it but she certainly wanted to go over it!  After I made her slow down and approach the barrel more slowly and with thought, I had to use more leg to steer her over it but she was a beast.  I found certainly can't keep my 5 mins of two point right now but I can get to 3 mins.  If there was a horse trial this weekend, I would have to scratch.  Since it is just a couple of lessons, I am going to go.  Woohoo!

Last night was jumping and Mia just impresses the crap out of me.  I set up 2 jumps as cross poles and warmed up.  I then set up a plank looking thing I use to jump over on one jump and put a tarp over the other jump.  Mia had absolutely zero hesitation at all about going over these new, solid looking jumps.  I eventually raised the tarp jump all the way up to 3'3" and while we were having issues with the striding and Mia brought it down a few times, Mia was hopping over that 3'3" jump like it was barely there.  OMG!!!  This girl can JUMP.

Tonight will be another dressage ride and tomorrow will be a quick jump ride to prepare for our clinic.  I have videos of last night and I am going to attempt to upload them off of my phone.  Here is to hoping they appear!

Okay, try the links, I can't get the last videos to embed

Friday, April 10, 2015

Big fat fail

In my last update, I had all of these grand plans to ride every day this week to prepare for our clinic next weekend.  Mia would do dressage on Monday, fitness Tuesday, jumping Wednesday, dressage Thursday, fitness Friday, trail ride Sat, jumping Sunday and repeat.  It was going to be great.  SO is out of town until the 25th, I didn't have lessons scheduled to get in the way, work wasn't supposed to be crazy, it would be perfect.  I would be 100% ready for my clinic.

Well, last Friday I had a slight tickle in my throat.  No biggie.  Saturday I admitted I may be becoming sick, but nothing major.  Sunday I started to have a slight cough and a runny nose, still no biggie.  Monday I was a bit more sick and started taking Mucinex/Robitussin and took the night off from riding to recover.  Whatever happened between Monday night and Tuesday morning, however, I have no clue.  By the time I woke up on Tuesday I HURT.  I was coughing HARD.  My lungs hurt. By lunch time, I had pulled muscles in my shoulders and ribs from coughing.  I was O/D'ing on Robitussin and it wasn't making a difference so I went to the doctor.

Doctor said I was not in a good state, my lungs did not sound healthy at all.  There was lots of crackling, popping and wheezing going on.  Yikes.  She sent me home with 4 different prescriptions and wants to see me next week if I am not 100% better because it could get worse.  She doesn't think it is whooping cough due to my limited exposure to people but isn't ruling it out.  If I am still sick next week she will have to draw blood to do that test.

So what have I done since Tuesday?  Almost nothing.  It has taken over a full hour to do chores in the mornings when it should take close to 35-40 mins.  Tues/Wed I had to move very slowly because I couldn't breathe in a way that wasn't very slow and very shallow.  No medium/normal breaths, no breathing hard through exertion otherwise I would end up in a ball in a coughing fit.  By the end of the day Wednesday I was slowly starting to cough less and at least I didn't feel myself pulling muscles anymore.  I was able to take normal breaths but no deep breaths.

Today I am about 80 percent.  I can take a semi-deep breath and not break out coughing.  My lungs FEEL much better even though they SOUND horrible.  For example today I still have a very unhealthy sounding rattle with a deep exhale.  My coughing is down to only a dozen or so coughs instead of a dozen or so an hour which is a HUGE improvement.  And I haven't ridden since last week.  Hell, since Monday I haven't even done chores at night and have been paying K to do them for me.

Tonight I am going to try to ride and see how it goes. I don't know if I will be super successful at going faster than a walk but I am going to try!  I have no idea what I will do if I am not better by next weekend, I am not sure if I will scratch or see if K wants to ride for me instead?  We will have to see how the week progresses.  I personally don't need the exposure going cross country, it is Mia so having someone else ride her isn't that big of a deal to me.  Keep your fingers crossed that I can start riding by this weekend so I will be in SOME kind of decent shape for the clinic.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Starting to prep

With my first clinic being on the 18th, it is time to start being really serious about riding.  Mia is coming along very nicely in dressage, it is really awesome compared to last year.  Our ride last week wasn't super reflective of that, but it really is coming along great.  When I rode last week, Mia had WAY too much energy.  I couldn't get her to just walk to warm up, she kept jigging and not listening let alone relax.  I finally kicked her into a trot and let her buzz around.  We did some figure 8's and then some tight figure 8's to get her to sharpen up and actually listen to the person on her back, she didn't want any of it for a while.  Any time I attempted to be even remotely soft in the reins she would take that as an indication to plow ahead and go faster and faster on her forehand.  Ah, no mare.  Eventually the tight figure 8's did the trick and she started to actually pay attention and listen to my legs and seat.

Once she started listening, I worked on getting her to stretch forward and down which she is getting the hang of.  We cantered to the left and it was quite nice.  We cantered to the right as the last thing on our list and Mia just could not brain.  Every single time I tried to give her a half of a pound of softness she would break forward into as much of a gallop as she absolutely could.  She refused to listen to my seat and I had to haul back on the reins to get her to go back into a trot.  Once in a trot she could not listen to my seat and wanted so badly for me to pull on her face because she was super happy to pull right back.

I tried a few tactics, I tried turning her into the wall every time she started to go faster.  I tried jerking the reins every time she tried taking off.  She would not settle so I went back to the small figure eights and worked exclusively on getting her to listen to my seat.  It took her a bit but finally she gave in and started listening to my seats and stopped pulling against my hands.  FINALLY!  After several laps of trot we tried a right lead canter which went well and then went to a left lead canter which while not exactly to the par we have been getting, was still pretty decent considering the ride we were having.  After all that work I finally let her have a good break and walked the sweaty girl until she was nice and cool and let her dry in front of a hay bag.  Ahh baby horses, make me want to scream sometimes.  I say that but App was SO much worse when he wanted to be.  Ugh, horses.

Lazy, lazy horses napping in the sun.  See TWH in the arena not napping in the sun.
SO headed back to the east coast Easter morning so I filled my time with listing stuff for sale.  I will be selling a LOT of stuff, hopefully I can find buyers for it all!  Budweiser beer steins, Nascar model cars, comic books, lots of nick knacks is the first wave to go, farm stuff will be next!

After lunch I grabbed Mia from the pasture, Wait.  That isn't totally true.  She was napping like she does all of the time.  I was able to walk up to her, pet her, put her halter on and then still had to convince her that it was time to get up.  Lazy horse.  I gave her a "day of beauty" which included pulling her mane over 2 inches shorter, scraping the caked mud off, brushing her tail out of the bag and rewrapping it and trimming the top of her tail.
Half through, looked GOOD I thought
I had hoped my Furminator would work like a tail rake and pull her tail but no such luck.  I started pulling her tail but lordy it takes forever!  I figured since we have a month before our show, I would try trimming it and it was looking really good!  Was.  Then K showed up as I was finishing up the left side and Mia turned abruptly to see and VOOP there goes a good chunk on her dock that I was leaving.  Damn it all!  It looks super crappy now after what I had to do to "even it up".  I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture, maybe I will later, grrr.

Pretty with a pulled mane
The very last step was to trim the 3 inch section of bridle path and she was done.  Thankfully I had tested this back in February and she was perfect, this would be over in 2 seconds.  Except it wasn't.  Mia had a meltdown, she did NOT want me to clip her bridle path and let me know ALL about it.  She threw me a couple of times, she shot backwards countless times, she kept her ears pinned and once I actually thought she was thinking of trying to bite me.  Uhhh, mare?  It took 45 minutes, FORTY FIVE MINUTES for me to get it done and she was NOT happy about it.  I even tried the tried and true method of "oh, be good?  Treat!" and she didn't care.  How odd.  She let me rub her ears and head all over and stick my fingers in her ears, I am not quite sure why she was so opposed.   She was better on her right side than her left but still fought me really hard.  Okay on her face and neck but not near her ears.  Guess what we are doing every night this week now :D

Tonight will be a dressage night and hopefully by Wednesday I will put up some jumps.  I have 2 weeks until my first clinic and I will be riding dressage with M and riding cross country with a new instructor B, the same set of people we actually rode with at this same clinic last year.  Hoping for some good progress, we have a show season to be ready for!